I’m in the middle of watching this TED video and I can already recommend it to anyone with an interest in education:
What made me stop the video and then proceed to write this post was how he described some teachers using the Khan Academy lectures. Basically, the students watched the lectures at home and what used to be homework was done in class. That way, the teacher is freed from having to give the same lectures over and over again, the students are free to pause, rewind and fast-forward the lectures as they see fit, and in class the students get to talk to the teacher and other students about the subject.
This reminded me of the Dragon Speech given by Chris Crawford in 1992. In that speech (in the third part, if you’re curious) he described how normal lectures are designed to be efficient but at the cost of low effectiveness, that the human mind is an active agent, not a passive receptacle. What he proposed for giving more effectiveness to lectures was to make them interactive by translating them into games.
It’s an approach that doesn’t seem practical since it requires a huge amount of legwork to get it started and then there’s no guarantee that it’ll catch on.
See where I’m getting at?
Yes, the Khan Academy videos seem to be the solution to the problem Crawford exposed. Granted, there’s not a huge amount of interactivity on the videos themselves, but that’s not a problem here. By watching the videos at home, the students are free to interact, to talk about the subject freely between themselves and with the teacher. It takes an expository environment such as the classroom and makes it a hell of a lot more interactive.
And it’s efficient too because the video lectures can be watched by anybody at anytime anywhere as long as they have an internet connection and a browser.
Frankly, the only problem that I see with using the Khan Academy lectures is that they’re all in the same language: English. The chances of these lectures catching on in countries other than the english speaking ones are … well, minimal. Non-existent, in fact.
When I was little, to get information I and many other students resorted to the spanish version of Encarta. It was nice and all, but it doesn’t even compare to Wikipedia nowadays, which not only has supplanted Encarta, it has helped spread a new paradigm in and off itself.
Would the Khan Academy do the same thing for the classroom environment? At least I’m sure of one thing, it’s going to need a huge translation effort in order to get closer to that goal.
Side-notes of stuff further in the video:
- Students with swiss cheese holes in their knowledge. That’s unbelievably and painfully true.
- The data structures and how they are graphed is very intelligent and intuitive. Seems as it would be a huge help for the teachers.
- Everyone gets stuck on a topic eventually and due to that some kids are labeled as “slower” than their peers. I’m not sure that happens everywhere in the world, but at least it rings somewhat true to me.
- Haha, he talks about a global classroom. Yeah, as long as it’s only in English that ain’t going to happen.